Ichos wins Rep. Jennifer Wexton’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s 10th District.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton has named Sauman Das, Sameer Gabbita, Arnav Jain, and Vishal Kotha of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s 10th District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Ichos, the students said, “With the COVID-19 pandemic straining healthcare facilities all over the world, billions of individuals don’t have access to doctors nor the adequate tools to accurately diagnose and treat other conditions. This problem is especially prevalent in low and middle-income communities where they lack basic healthcare resources to treat the population. Furthermore, current diagnostic tools, such as MRI scans, X-rays, and pH monitoring, are expensive, often requiring millions of dollars worth of equipment as well as trained medical professionals. Our group has also been personally affected by the pandemic: with most of our families living in under-developed areas in India, they have been unable to receive healthcare resources to treat other ailments due to a lack of accessibility to healthcare resources, which has been exacerbated by an increased focus on COVID-19. As a result, our team sought to make a more accessible solution for early healthcare screening that does not require any expensive equipment nor any medical expertise. Ichos is the modern solution to this problem by diagnosing a multitude of diseases using only the user’s voice or breath.

When researching possible diseases to diagnose with our framework, we quickly noticed that most of the top ten causes of death are diseases most prevalent in low- and middle-income communities (World Health Organization). Furthermore, most of the diseases on the list are hard to diagnose and aren’t detected until their latest stages, when they are the hardest to treat. As a result, we chose to focus our efforts on accurately diagnosing various respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s Disease since they are among the top ten causes of death. Specifically, the chances of having Alzheimer’s Disease significantly increase with age (around 72% of all Americans over the age of 65 with the disease are 75 years old or older); early and proper screening for the disease can potentially save thousands to even millions of lives. We also wanted to focus our framework on Specific Language Impairment: a communication disorder among young children that manifests in a lack of language skills. This condition can follow children into adulthood.

In conclusion, we hope that Ichos can one day be used as an early-screening application that can inform millions of individuals about the diseases affecting them in low-income communities as well as provide a “second opinion” in areas where these healthcare resources are accessible.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.